Scotsman - News in brief. 07.07.06
A message from Al-Qaeda
has drawn a direct link between 7/7 and the invasion of Iraq. One of the London bombers Shehzad Tanweer is shown in a video released by al-Qaeda and in it he states that bombings will continue until British forces are withdrawn. This has renewed debate on links between bombings and UK foreign policy and whether the invasion of Iraq triggered the 7 July attacks. Disturbing video footage was released by AL-QAEDA yesterday in which Shehzad Tanweer, 22, who killed himself and seven others on an Underground train near Aldgate in east London is heard to say, "What you have witnessed now is only the beginning of a string of attacks that will continue and become stronger until you pull your forces out of Afghanistan and Iraq," Both intelligence officers and Police said releasing the footage at this time was deliberately timed to coincide with the first anniversary of the bombings. Andy Hayman, the head of Scotland Yard's anti-terrorism unit said, " can only cause maximum hurt and distress to the families and friends of those who died and the hundreds of people who were injured in the terrorist attacks,". Meanwhile the Prime Minister's official spokesman was unwilling to comment on the footage. "The focus tomorrow should be on the quiet reflection of people around the country, and that's what we are doing," he said. However, lack of comment by the government is not likely to stop this footage raising new queries about the bombings and the events that preceded them.
Professor Bernard King, the principal of University of Abertay Dundee , suggests that Scotland should develop an American-style "Ivy League" of elite universities who would raise their own funding by allowing existing institutions to pull out of the state system and enable them to raise millions of pounds in private tuition fees. He says "Perhaps the time has come for a full debate on whether this type of subsidy for the wealthy should continue. Perhaps, for some institutions, there is now an opportunity to be bold and to opt entirely out of the state funding system and go private, charging fees comparable to Harvard and to public schools in the UK and providing scholarships for the less well-off." Professor Bernard King said that the privately funded universities could model themselves on institutions such as Harvard or Princeton, charging high fees for wealthy students and using the money to fund scholarships for the less well-off. Stephen Magee, the vice-principal of St Andrews University, last night welcomed Prof King's comments stating that a change to the current funding regime was "inevitable". He said "The present funding system is unsustainable." President of the National Union of Students in Scotland, James Alexander, said: "Our biggest concern is that it will create a two-tier system, and that's something we've been fighting for a long time. Instead of disadvantaging some students by privatising universities, principals should be calling for more money from the government."
Fire Brigades Union have voice concerns that risk assessment has been ignored and fire chiefs are putting revellers attending T in the Park at risk as a result of "penny-pinching". Jim Malone - Senior FBU official said, "We work at the sharp end; we know what is needed to make the place safe. We feel this is compromising the safety of revellers. will, for one weekend, become one of the biggest cities in Scotland." They claim this weekend's festival, which will be attended by an estimated 140,000 people, will now be understaffed by firefighters - with only one dedicated appliance on standby. Previously there had been two crews of five fire fighters assigned to attend incidents at the event near Balado, Perthshire. As in other years, another crew will be used if necessary but it will also answer other emergency calls. Tayside Fire and Rescue officials denied the clessing that safety at the event was paramount. A spokesperson said: "It is difficult to understand why they claim lives are being put at risk. We have a comprehensive, major event planning process both internally and with the event organisers. .... Tayside Fire and Rescue have carried out a full task and risk analysis for the forthcoming T in the Park festival." A spokesperson for T in the Park added: "T in the Park has an excellent safety record and would never compromise any aspect of its security or organisation. We are confident that we have more than enough resources on site to cope with any credible risk."
An embattled JOHN Prescott fighting against suggestions that he had broken ministerial and Commons rules in his meetings with Philip Anschutz, the US billionaire seeking the licence for Britain's first super-casino yesterday made a defiant attempt to shrug off the latest allegations of sleaze against him but failed to end speculation about his future. The Deputy Prime Minister said in a radio interview "I will get on with doing my job and I am not leaving it," Later Sir Philip Mawer, the parliamentary standards commissioner, confirmed he will hold a full inquiry into Mr Prescott's weekend stay last year at Mr Anschutz's Colorado ranch.